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Finals Game 2 Preview (pt. 1) — The View from Orlando...


Only 19 days and a couple hours until the NBA draft!


Is everybody stoked for that?!?!?

Two seconds and already eyes are rolling and lips are muttering about clueless Timbo. "Hey dumbass — the Finals are on! Didn't you notice?" But I am very serious here: in less than 3 weeks NBA teams will be charting their future via the draft. Two multi-day  "Supercamps" have already been held — in Oakland and in Minnesota — in which 68 hopefuls have strutted their stuff. A third Supercamp is slated for later this month in New Jersey, while there will be a 4-day Reebok Eurocamp attended by all the top European prospects imminently.

Teams around the league are holding their own sessions, conducting interviews and workouts, taking a very close look at batches of NBA wannabes and gonnnabes, up to six guys at a time.

Yesterday the Portland Trail Blazers, just for example because I'm versed on the example, got a glimpse at a chippy Israeli Small Forward, a biggish Venezuelan Point Guard who played ball at Maryland, and took a second look at a 6'11" string bean potential "project" player from LSU. There were three other guys in attendance.

The Lakers and the Magic have other things on their minds for the next week or two, obviously. No doubt that neither team is asleep, the scouting departments of each are unquestionably doing their due diligence at this moment, just like the brain trusts of every other team in the league. But the Lakers and Magic have low picks and divided attention. The draft is simply not made for championship contenders.

This is just a little reminder that there is another world outside the Finals fishbowl and that 28 teams are already working hard to get to the very same place that the LA Lakers and the Orlando Magic are now.

There's a second point to this eye-rollingly non-germane introduction, I guess: the draft system is designed to equalize teams around the league. The Lakers and the Magic may be gaining invaluable and unmatchable experience playing basketball in the ultimate pressure situation, but in Memphis and Sacramento and Oklahoma City and Minneapolis and a dozen other NBA towns, hungry teams are already 3 steps ahead building their units for the 2011-2012 season and beyond.

It's hard to get to the NBA Finals and exponentially harder to make it back twice in a row — the Lakers are quite amazing for their achievement, if you think about it. Just imagine how hard it may well be three or five years from now, when today's lottery picks are tomorrow's stars...

We need to all really think about that and take time enjoy the moment. This moment.

Now let's pay a visit to our friends in the Orlando orbit to see if they are properly savoring their moment, shall we?

(Click on through for some swell Orlandovian Links...)



Orlando Sentinel Internet Poll

as of 11 pm EST, June 5, 2009

Q. Did Stan Van Gundy give Jameer Nelson too much playing time last night?

  • Yes, he should have cut his time (650 responses) — 69.4%
  • No, he didn't play him enough (74 responses) — 7.9%
  • He played him just the right amount (213 responses) — 22.7%

937 total responses (Results not scientific)


Clean Sweep

posted by "CharlesB222" to Orlando Sentinel Magic Forum

* * *
Folks we are looking at a clean sweep here. Kobe Bryant simply WILL NOT and I repeat WILL NOT be denied a championship this year. Did you all see the demon like look on his face tonight? Clearly he was playing like a man who was possessed out there.

It's simple really folks. It is 1995 all over again. One team (Lakers) is playing like they WANT IT. The other team (Magic) is playing like they are just happy to be here. Exactly like 1995 for sure folks.

NO DOUBT at all whatsoever that the Lakers WILL win this series. Even a 4 year old can make that prediction. The only question that remains is will the Magic at least win 1 game in this series ?


Not That Lopsided

posted by "Jonathan" to Orlando Sentinel Magic Forum

If you checked your Laker teams box score you'd see that your "deep" team actually didn't play that well. But they were definately "Kob-i-fied" enough to win. He went nuts.

The points for the Lakers weren't much different from the Cavs. Kobe went for 40 like Lebron, Lamar went for 11 like Ilgauskus, Bynum put up 9 like an avg Varejao game, Pau put up 16 not much different from Mo Williams scoring and Fisher had 9 points like a Booby Gibson stat.

The numbers were not lopsided as you think. The Magic just flat out couldn't hit a shot! They made 23 field goals the entire game. 9 more than Kobe. That was the difference, not a "deep" team. Besides Odom who is pretty much a starter.

Your bench scored 12 points and your backup PG and SG were 0 for 4. And 3 of the 12 points from your bench were at the last second of the game.

Play the win however you want but its a fact that this series is far from over.


Eddie Rivera of Third Quarter Collapse and Brian "I'd Tell You My Source But Then It Wouldn't be a Secret" Schmitz visit the Kamenetzky Bros. Lakers Podcast — AUDIO

The Kamenetzky boys do Guestapalooza, which also includes phone visits with TrueHoop's Kevin Arnovitz and Henry Abbott (who raves on and on about Kobe — a big fan, believe it or not), 

Includes a gratuitous joking reference to the "some guy from the SBNation Lakers blog." 


A Few Reasons for Optimism After Last Night's Loss

by Zach McCann, Orlando Magic (TrueHoop)

If you're a Magic fan, you're surely not feeling very good right now, as the Lakers just gave the Magic their worst loss of the playoffs and sent us all tumbling back to reality. But look at the bright side: things aren't going to get worse than they were last night.  *  *  *

1. The Magic will adjust to L.A.'s adjustment. If coaching in the NBA Finals is a game of chess, Phil Jackson just took Stan Van Gundy's queen. The Lakers took everyone by surprise by practically abandoning the triangle offense in the second quarter, instead utilizing the pick-and-roll to free up Kobe Bryant for open mid-range looks. The Magic clearly hadn't planned on this, as they looked confused and out of sync on defense. * * *

2. Orlando won't shoot worse than that. The Magic shot 29.9 percent, their worst shooting percentage in 102 games this season. A lot of it had to do with the Lakers' fantastic length, rotation, and help defense, and some of it had to do with Orlando missing open looks. * * *

3. Jameer Nelson will get better, hopefully. After an inspiring first few minutes where Nelson found several open teammates for lay-ups and hit an open jumper, Nelson went cold and the offense went stagnant. Nelson admitted to feeling out of rhythm after the game, and it clearly showed. His long-range jumper simply wasn't there, in a major way — watching him throw up a couple air balls was painful to watch. Was it a matter of rust or injury? The answer to that question will play a big role in this series. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nelson play 30+ minutes by Game 3.


Possible Adjustments for Game 2

by Maxwell Effort, The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me (Bloguin)

One of the things we respect the most about Stan is that he is not your typical coach. One of his biggest attributes is his willingness to admit mistakes and make adjustments. He does not try and do things his way or beat a certain style to death. His sole focus is on winning and formulating a game plan to do so game by game.

Well Chris Sheridan of was able to get a couple of quotes from Stan Van Gundy on possible adjustments going into Game 2.

"Van Gundy did acknowledge he had erred by using Nelson for the entire second quarter, saying he would limit Nelson to stretches of 6 or 7 minutes of playing time as the series moves forward." * * *

"Of the nine guys we played, I thought Gortat had the best all-around game last night," Van Gundy said.


Orlando has no Magic Potion for Cooling off Los Angeles Lakers' Star Kobe Bryant

by Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel

LOS ANGELES - As many highlights as the Kobe Bryant Show had in hanging 40 points on the Magic during the Lakers' Game 1 win Thursday, for Dwight Howard it was just another chapter in a production he's too familiar with.

It was during Howard's rookie season, after all, that Bryant gave him a present that to this day he still hasn't forgotten — though he's certainly tried.

"Don't remind me," Howard said. "He baptized me, brought me into the NBA and back to reality with one play. Yeah, every time he gets ready to drive down the lane, every time since then, I've had the flash of him dunking and hearing the crowd and everybody say, 'Boom.' I'll make sure that won't happen again."

Bryant's game certainly has grown in five seasons. And though stopping him completely in Game 2 might not be realistic, the Magic will spend another practice today trying to figure something out.

As expected, Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy used a variety of different bodies to give Bryant different looks in Game 1.

Courtney Lee started on him, and Mickael Pietrus came on in relief.

Pietrus had the best luck out of the two, but Bryant seemed to get whatever shot he desired both inside and outside. * * *


Length of Los Angeles Lakers' Big Men a Large Problem for Orlando Magic

by Brian "No Means Yes" Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

LOS ANGELES - Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard said his first game in the NBA Finals felt "kind of normal."

"The only thing that was different is you're seeing the big trophy everywhere you look."

Actually, the decorations adorned with images of the NBA title trophy weren't the only things with impressive size.

It seemed there was a long and large Laker everywhere Howard looked during Thursday night's opening 100-75 loss to Los Angeles.

At 6 feet 10 and 275 pounds, Howard usually is the lone commanding presence on the floor. But the Lakers ganged up on him at virtually every turn, 7-footers (Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) and 6-10 Lamar Odom providing the brick and mortar for superstar Kobe Bryant's 40-point masterpiece.

Howard finished with just one basket, going 1-for-6 as the Lakers made him earn points from the free-throw line, where he was 10-of-16.

"We watched film, and from the start of the film to the end, everybody in the room was very upset," he said.

Gasol, Odom and Bynum combined for 15 of the Lakers' 41 baskets, and Bryant added 16 himself to shred the Magic's token defense.

"They're going to make it tough to get Dwight rolling," Coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He did not play with great energy. He's got to play on the run more." * * *


I know Parker Lewis Can't Lose, but what about the Magic?

by Michael White, Orlando Sentinel Magic BasketBlog

I doubt there are more than a dozen goons reading these words with dork credentials comparable to mine. So this next reference will be pointless to most, but please bear with me. In the short-lived, but excellent, series Parker Lewis Can't Lose, there is an episode in which the beautiful blonde girl of Parker's dreams becomes his girlfriend.

This places Parker, the show's likable but decidedly nerdy protagonist, in a wholly unfamiliar predicament.

What do you do when you get the thing in the world you want the most? Something you never really allowed yourself to dream was attainable. Where do you go once you've slaughtered the dragon?

That is where I am right now with the Magic. As huge a fan as I am, I never really expected this team to be here, or play this well when it mattered most. They've done me proud no matter what happens from here on out.

In the meantime, new fans are popping up at every turn.

I know they mean well, but I would be lying if I pretended they are not abhorrently annoying.

It's sort of like when your favorite underground band gets popular: Of course you always wanted the pretty girls to listen to Death Cab for Cutie, but when it comes right down to it, they'll still be going to the concert with the alpha males born to make your life an incessant misery.

All of this is a very self-indulgent way of saying I am not feeling it right now. * * *


Tiger admits he's rooting for Lakers, weighs in on LeBron

by Michael White, Orlando Sentinel Magic BasketBlog

* * *
Woods said he was rooting for the favorite team of his youth (the Los Angeles Lakers) over the Magic in the NBA Finals.

"I live in Orlando and root for the Magic, but I'm from L.A.," he said. "I grew up watching Magic (Johnson), Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and (James) Worthy and Byron (Scott) and all those teams. Before that, (Bob) McAdoo and (Norm) Nixon, you name it. It's hard, but I'm from L.A."


A Look into What Lakers Fans are Thinking

by Zach McCann, Orlando Magic (TrueHoop)

Kurt Helin, who runs the great Lakers' blog Forum Blue and Gold and is also my podcast friend, took the time to answer a few questions after Thursday night's Game 1. * * *

OMD: The Lakers seemed to completely abandon the triangle offense. Have you seen them go away from the triangle for that long of an extended stretch before? Have you ever seen so much pick-and-roll from Kobe?

Kurt Helin: The Lakers usually reserve the pick-and-roll, particularly with Kobe and Gasol, for the last five minutes of a close game. Because of the versatility of both players offensively, it is very tough to defend. But the Lakers and Phil Jackson are pragmatists — if something is working they will keep doing it until you stop it.

Clearly, Orlando didn't stop it. So the Lakers went away from the triangle, with Jackson saying after the game he thought Kobe was shooting too much, but it was working so they stuck with it.

From Orlando's perspective, while it may be preferable to have Kobe shooting jumpers to dunks, there are certain spots on the floor for him where his jumper might as well be a lay-up — and the elbow is one of them. He got there at will last game, and Howard simply is going to have to come out and defend that pick-and-roll and not let him get to that spot. Because Los Angeles will probe that weakness again early next game. * * *


Now Playing: 10 Movies for the NBA Finals

by Cuzzy,

The Curse of the Big Aristotle supplied the link. 10 funny photoshopped movie posters for the NBA Finals.

You need to click the link above to see them, but it is worth the minute or so you will spend.

The Bottom Line:

1. Must. Contain. Kobe. Bryant.

2. The adjustments are coming and there is no way in hell that our Magic are going to shoot that badly again.

3. Don't worry, be happy.

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